The Colombian government and rebel group FARC have agreed to temporarily create reserved seats for conflict areas in Congress in order to amplify these abandoned regions’ voice in national politics, the partial agreement on political participation that was released on Wednesday said.
The government and rebels released the full text of the agreement on political participation achieved last year in Havana, Cuba, as part of ongoing peace negotiations that began in 2012.
In its introduction, the deal mainly stresses the need for Colombia to amplify political participation of minority groups, women, and areas that have long been abandoned by the state partly due to the conflict.
Colombia’s peace deals in depth
According to the FARC and the government, a final peace deal should “contribute to the amplification and deepening of democracy, implying the abandonment of arms and the proscription of violence as a means of political action.”
Additionally, “in order to consolidate peace, it is necessary to guarantee pluralism, facilitating the constitution of new political parties and movements that contribute to debate and the democratic process, who must have the necessary guarantees for the exercise of opposition and become true alternatives for power.”
Congressional seats for conflict areas
The text expands on agreements already made public, but provides specifics about for example the FARC’s entry to politics and the creation of temporary seats in Congress for “areas particularly affected by the conflict, abandonment [by the state] and the weak institutional presence.”
The negotiating commissions failed to agree on the number of House seats that would be allocated to these regions and for how long. These specific numbers were filled in with an X.
Special rules will apply to the registration and election of candidates to these seats. Candidates will need to be residents of the territory they seek to represent or be in the process of returning after forced displacement from the territory. Additionally, their campaigns will receive financing and access to regional media.
Citizens will be able to vote for the ordinary congressional seats while also choosing these special representatives. Parties with representation in Congress will not be allowed to run candidates for the special territorial seats.
Protection for FARC politicians
In order to allow the FARC the transition from armed guerrilla group to unarmed political movement, the two commissions agreed to create a government agency in charge of protecting the physical integrity of FARC politicians and activists.
The agency will consist of four elements: formal and institutional modification, prevention, protection, and evaluation and follow-up.
Formal and institutional modification will consist of increasing the penalty for crimes committed against political actors, and also an expansion of the capacities of investigation and prosecution of these crimes. This is meant to combat impunity.
Measures for prevention of such crimes will also be taken, including a system of early alerts with sufficient state financing.
Specialized protection for the members of FARC’s new political party will be provided, based on the evaluations of risks, and will be coordinated its actions with the party.
To be provide adequate security, a system of a evaluation will be created to plan, inform, and monitor the performance of the new agency. International humanitarian groups will aid the agency in this process.
Finally, a commission with representatives from the political party will be created to follow-up on performance of the agency and the advances made against the “criminal groups” that threaten political actors.
This security policy aims to prevent the possible repetition of a political genocide like that of the Patriotic Union party in the 1980s and 1990s. Thousands of members of this party, including two presidential parties, were assassinated after the FARC’s attempt to take part in politics following an accord in the 1980s.
Most of FARC’s proposals agreed with by government delegation
What has been previously known about the negotiations over political participation were the “Minimum Proposals” put forward by the FARC’s peace delegation. The proposals consisted of ten main points, each containing six and 11 sub-points.
After successful negotiation with the government, an agreement was announced in November of 2013, but only three broad points of the deal were released:
Wednesday’s documents revealed the full extent of this agreement and showed that key demands of the FARC, except one urging to hold a Constituent Assembly to amend the constitution, were granted.
Full rights and guarantees for the exercise of political opposition in general, and in particular for the new movements to emerge after the signing of a Final Agreement
- Commission to define the statute of guarantees for political actors in general (not just in political and electoral system)
- Security guarantees for political actors through the creation of new Integrated Security System for the Exercise of Politics utilizing prevention, protection, evaluation and follow-up; includes strengthening capacities to investigate and prosecute those who attack political actors
Democratic mechanisms for citizen participation, including those of direct participation, at different levels and on diverse topics
- Creation of a national Commission of Dialogue to discuss rights and guarantees for social movements and organizations
- Guarantees for mobilization and protest and for the rights of protesters
- Citizen participation through community, institutional, and regional media
- Creation of National Council for Reconciliation and Coexistence to promote tolerance, not stigmatization, especially for reasons of social and political action
- Citizen oversight and control of public sector, especially of implementation of peace agreement
- Strengthening of democratic and participatory planning, including modifying the functions and structure of Territorial Councils of Planning to increase citizen participation in development plans
Effective measures to promote participation in national, regional, and local politics
- Promotion of political pluralism through equal access to the political system and equal conditions for political competition; includes reducing thresholds for the legal constitution of parties and an 8-year transition period to promote new parties, with funding and communication of political programs
- Promotion of electoral participation, particularly with vulnerable populations
- Promotion of electoral transparency
- Reform of electoral regime and organization with proposals from a special electoral mission
- Promotion of a democratic and participatory political culture
- Promotion of political representation of populations and zone particularly affected by conflict and abandonment
- Promotion of the political participation and leadership of women
Access to media: Creation of a new space to give access to media to political movements and parties
- Government commits to enabling creation of an institutional television channel oriented towards political movements and parties with legal status to communicate their political platforms
- Representatives of the political movements, parties, organizations, and social movements will form a commission to advise the channel on its programming
- Participacion politica: Apertura democratica para construir la paz (FARC and government delegations)
- Joint Communique #44 (FARC website)